Eighteen seasons into their existence, the Nationals can only claim one former player who was inducted to the Hall of Fame. And while Ivan Rodriguez’s Cooperstown case was rock solid, few really remember the great catcher for the two seasons he spent in D.C. at the end of his career.
It’ll be a while longer before any other former Nats are elected. Figure it’ll be at least seven years until Max Scherzer completes both his contract with the Mets and then the requisite five-year waiting period to become eligible. And if Max has anything to say about it, he has no intention of retiring in two years anyway.
It’ll take even longer before the likes of Juan Soto, Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Anthony Rendon end their careers. Besides, each of them still has plenty of work to do to solidify his resume, with Soto and Harper in the best position of the four at the moment and Rendon desperately needing to right his wayward ship since he left Washington for Anaheim.
So, the Nationals’ representation in Cooperstown may stay minimal for some time.
But what about honoring former players who don’t really have a Hall of Fame case but still left an indelible impact on the franchise? There’s a longer list of those players, and maybe as the Nats’ approach their third decade in town it’s time to start thinking about them more.
The Lerner family has already honored Ryan Zimmerman as the team’s first player to have his jersey retired. And both Jayson Werth and Frank Robinson had their names added to the Ring of Honor that sits below the first base upper deck at Nationals Park. More names figure to join them in the years to come.
A good number of Major League Baseball clubs, though, have created their own Halls of Fame. Every year, they induct several new members, finding ways to recognize not only the most prominent players in team history but those who still left a mark without making regular All-Star appearances. Or managers, coaches or other team employees, for that matter.
There is a Washington, D.C., Sports Hall of Fame, and every year a new group of inductees is honored at Nationals Park, where a large banner behind the left field concourse lists everybody’s name for posterity. But that’s meant to encompass all sports in the area and isn’t specifically for the Nats.
Maybe it’s still a little too early in the club’s history to do this, but if the Nationals did create their own Hall of Fame, who would deserve consideration and induction?
There are the obvious ones named above, starting with Zimmerman. But you could also make a case for guys like Ian Desmond and Gio Gonzalez. Neither was elite enough to have his number retired or name carved into the stadium façade, but each played here for seven seasons and had a real impact on the team’s fortunes.
What about players who created iconic moments, like Jordan Zimmermann or Howie Kendrick?
What about non-players who have been influential over the years, like Davey Martinez, Mike Rizzo, Davey Johnson and Dusty Baker?
The list could be long, depending on how long someone is willing to make it before it feels excessive.
What do you think? If a Nationals Hall of Fame was created, who would you elect?